Sunday, October 24, 2010

House-Hunting Continues

Today we went to three open houses for new properties in our price range.

First, we headed to a penthouse duplex on Braddock Park. There were only photos of the exterior in the listing, but the broker promised that it was full of wonderful detail inside, plus a deck and roof deck.

To get there, we walked through the Pru shortly before noon. A Halloween celebration for kids was in full swing. We saw fairies, princesses, pumpkins, superheroes, a butterfly, some geishas, and one very tiny blonde vampire in a satin tux —napping in his baby stroller because it was daylight. And this mummy:

He wanted to be King Tut....

It looked like everyone was having a great time. Kudos to the Pru for organizing this big, happy event.

At Braddock Park, we found a sign on the door saying that the open house was canceled. Oh, well. We had other fish to fry. And I'm trying to log at least 10,000 steps on my new pocket pedometer every day, so the hike over there wasn't a total loss.

We headed back to Back Bay, walked through the Public Garden and the Common, down Bowdoin Street and onto Cambridge Street. Off Cambridge is a tiny street I'd never noticed before, Coolidge Avenue — an alley, really. To get to the open house, we walked through a large parking lot. I had no idea such a thing existed on Beacon Hill. The lot became a tiny brick-paved mews (I guess that what you'd call it) and on the left was a quaint, Federal-style townhouse with a wide red door, flower pots, a pair of handsome coach lanterns, and an antique letterbox. It felt liked we'd arrived in an English village.
We walked into a low-ceilinged living-dining room furnished with good antiques, which harmonized with the historic details of the room. There were handsome oriental rugs everywhere; a log crackled in the marble fireplace, next to a baby grand piano.
The layout was L-shaped, with 1,000 more square feet than we have now. A door from the elegant cherry kitchen led to a private, brick-walled garden with a wall fountain and plenty of space for furniture and flowers. We could imagine our cats playing there, safe and secure. So far, it was magic and we were in love.

Upstairs were three bedrooms and two small marble baths with showers in lieu of tubs. And 11 good-sized windows. Added to those downstairs, there were a total of 18 — most of the perimeter walls were fully lined with them. These are load-bearing walls where we'd ordinarily put big, heavy bookshelves. We have 200 linear feet of shelves now, and we could use a lot more. So there was almost zero space for books in this house. The current owners shelved their "library" on just eight little foot-long shelves. All the windowless walls were lined with radiators along the floor, making them poor prospects for bookshelves, too. We have three beloved, glass-fronted oak bookcases from Restoration Hardware, and there was nowhere to put them in this house.

This was disappointing; we'd been immediately taken by the cozy rooms and private garden, and the price was right. It's amazing how a place can be nearly twice the size of ours yet not have room for our favorite furniture and bookcases.
* * *

We consoled ourselves with burritos at the Cambridge Street Anna's Taqueria and headed to our last open house, also on the Hill, on Beacon Street. Beyond the massive green door, the common hallway appeared to have been covered in sheets of melllow gold leaf; the effect was elegant, not ostentatious. A graceful oval staircase spiraled up three more stories. The open house was on the parlor level.

As soon as we walked in, we learned that it had gone under agreement that morning, after less than a week on the market. But we were invited to walk around, "just in case." Today we were batting .333.

The condo had a large, cream-colored living-dining room overlooking the Common, a small, 1980's kitchen, and a spacious bedroom, all with dark wood floors. Off the bedroom was a brick-floored sunroom with glass-paned walls, unique and old-fashioned. Loads of charm, and probably loads of drafts all winter.
Beyond it was the private garden. It was HUGE for a city garden. There were different seating areas, paths, shrubbery, a hedge, several mature trees, ivy-covered walls. It was almost as amazing as the Joy Street garden with the swimming pool — but that one was shared by two buildings.

You'd have to shout to reach someone at the other end of this one. You could grow crops and keep a pony.
The best thing about house-hunting is finding secret treasures behind the doors of ordinary-looking buildings we've passed for decades, never suspecting.

Back in the condo, we climbed carefully down a ladder-like stairway to a basement bedroom and a 1970's bathroom with turquoise fixtures. The staircase was too steep and precarious, like one you'd find on a boat — a deal-breaker for sure... if it weren't for that garden.

It's good that this place is off the market so we don't have the dilemma of deciding whether to buy it.

* * *

We came home to a possible catastrophe. I'm trying to keep Possum from stealing food from the other cats, since he is too fat. So, before we left, I took a glass bowl with a small amount of Snalbert's kibble and put it up on the counter, where Possum doesn't jump. I've been doing this for months without incident.  But clever Snalbert jumped up and knocked the bowl off the counter, where it shattered into a thousand little bits. We swept and vacuumed, and I noticed there was no kibble among the wreckage. Did Snalbert finish it before the accident? Or did one or more cats come in and eat kibble mixed with glass on the floor? If so, which cats? We checked paws and mouths; no injuries. And i'd fed everyone a second breakfast before we went out.  Did they avoid the kitchen because of the scary sound of the crash? Did the other cats sleep during the three hours we were out?

We have to watch all four of them for signs of bleeding and anemia over the next several days. I'm going to call the vet tomorrow, just in case they have any advice. Needless to say, I'm a wreck and plan to remain so for the near future. I'll never leave another bowl of food on the counter: I thought the was Pyrex, and we have a soft vinyl floor. But that little dish was pulverized; glass even flew back up onto the counter.

According to my pedometer, it's been a 13,000-step day.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely hidden gardens, and while I am more into modern furnishings, the gardens are lovely, long as someone else takes care of them...I have a brown thumb...

    Oh, the cats! The no kibble amongst the glass would have freaked me too. I read that much Pyrex is now made in China and explodes like smithereens, even in the oven!

    We tell people to feed them buttered bread to pad the stomach...


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